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There's no denying that Blizzard as had a pretty tough time lately. There was the backlash to the announcement of a mobile Diablo game, of course. A few months after that we saw the backlash to the way in which Blizzard handled the suspension of a Hearthstone player who supported the Hong Kong protests.
Not long after that, we saw the backlash to the way in which Blizzard handled the aforementioned suspension backlash. All in all, not a great run for the company. In the midst of all this drama, the original creators behind the popular Diablo franchise have stepped in to give their take on matters.
Speaking to PC Gamer, Blizzard North founders David Brevik, Erich Schaefer, and Max Schaefer revealed that they feel Blizzard has "completely" changed. I should point out that all three of the above developers quit the company several years ago, if that wasn't already obvious.
"The old Blizzard is gone," Max Schaefer explained. "When we quit, there was like 180 employees total. There's thousands now. The whole empire is different, and Activision didn't have any influence. At that point it was just Blizzard and then some anonymous corporate owner, Vivendi or whoever. That was it. And so now [Blizzard is] a video game empire that has to appease shareholders and all that sort of stuff."
Brevik added that the changes in the way the company is run was to be expected as Blizzard grew into the massive corporation it is. The trio also explained that they could feel it going that way even back when they were working on Diablo 2. As Blizzard grew, they claimed they found themselves dealing with more and more company politics.
"I think the biggest thing is we didn't talk about shareholder value," Erich Schaefer said. "We didn't talk about Chinese government and what they might want. The only thing we ever talked about was what we wanted to do and what the fans would like. It's obviously not the case anymore, for better or worse. I don't blame them. They're a giant corporation."
"You can't be that big and be as free-wheeling as we were, and one of the reasons we left was to be more self-deterministic and not be beholden to some monstrous organization," Max added.
"Nothing ever stays the same. We would not have survived [Blizzard's] growth in any form by staying there. It would have just driven us crazy because it's just all we want to do is have a team and make the games we want to make. That's possible in the small group like Blizzard used to be and it's not possible in a media conglomerate empire thing that they have right now."
Predominately, the group seemed to agree that Blizzard had found itself in an incredibly difficult situation with Blitzchung, describing it as a "no-win" scenario. Having said that, the group could also all agree that Blizzard handled the whole thing pretty badly.
"If they don't punish, then what?" Brevik asked. "They're just going to become this free speech platform for any kind of political movement that anybody wants to take up? They had to do something, but was it perfectly handled? Probably not. I mean, that's why they apologized."
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